Ch. III, p.3

Steadily raising himself from the cold floor, he took a pattering step towards the machine and stopped. There it is again. I could swear…

slam

In the distance…

s l a m

Schrae…

A throaty, otherworldly noise mixed with the sound of scraping claws and growling.

Schraeee!

SLAM!

His muscles jerked taut, dropping him into a frozen crouch.

Schraeee!

Slashing noises.

Rrrargh!

Growling and screeching resounded loudly outside, interspersed with heavy thuds and the flapping of wings.

S L A M

SCHRAEEE!

S L A M

SCHRAEE!

S LA M

C R A S H!

Glass tinkled noisily in the hallway outside. The fighting stopped.

Don’t move…

Something had won; its labored breathing echoed forcefully nearby.

It won’t find me if I stay still. His eyes were wide open, darting side to side frantically. Wait, what if it’s looking for this room? I need a way out. I need to leave… No, what am I thinking? That's insane! It will kill me if I try to escape! I... just need to get my things...

His mind was barely functioning. He operated on jittery impulse as he stalked carefully towards the reconstructor, legs shaking uncontrollably.

Flesh rammed against metal and another unearthly cry resounded.

It’s not looking for me. It’s not looking for me. His head grew light. He hadn’t been breathing. Just… breathe… s l o w l y… he tensed up his stomach muscles and tried to draw air in without making any noise.

Barely keeping his hand steady, he opened up the reconstructor. The destabilizer sat atop a large pile; he retrieved it carefully and struggled to open the advertisement-laden box, almost dropping it. Come on, come on… Large claws rustled noisily in the vegetation outside—the beast was at his back.

He ripped the box open and spun around, wrapping the corded device around the fingers of his left hand. Nothing was there.

Okay, just be calm. Just breathe. He repeated the mantra several times as he turned and opened the glassy door again. Fumbling through the pile, he retrieved the sonar mapping device and pulled it from its box. All you have to do is breathe.

He held the small circular device in one hand and pulled a standard holographic imaging unit from its side, sticking the miniscule bit of metal next to his eye. A blue screen lit up in front of him, covering the darkness. He gestured with his fingers to make the window smaller and activated the sonar imaging system.

Hrumph! The creature grunted.

Oh god… did it hear that? He stared at a luminescent blue rendering of the hallways and building surrounding him. Everything echoed the devastation that he had seen, and in the midst of it, a terrifying model of the gryphon-like beast outside was frozen in time, blood dripping from its maw overtop a defeated foe.

Claws tacked towards him rapidly and a massive, feathered head appeared in the doorway, glistening with blood. It cried ferociously and reared, slamming its front feet into the covered entrance. The metallic sheet hurled across the room, colliding with the wall opposite.

Oh my god… He held his wrapped fist out, cold feet padding against the tile with each shaking step backwards. His foe dropped its dark plume, torn and ragged from its last encounter, and crouched, sliding its black feathered wings together.

Please don't let it fit through the door...

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